Live Review: Wednesday, Draag; Breakers, Stephen Bartolomei tonight; Spoy, Pagan Athletes Saturday…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , , — @ 9:49 am May 31, 2024
Wednesday at The Slowdown, May 30, 2024.

by Tim McMahan,

Before we get to the review of last night’s show at Slowdown, a head’s up that tonight, The Reader’s patriarch, John Heaston, is being honored by the Omaha Press Club with the 178th “Face on the Barroom Floor.” I can think of no one more deserving. I’ll be there and will try to snap some pictures or at least get a photo of the drawing. Speaking of The Reader, there’s news about the future of that publication, which I’ll pass along next week…

John Heaston, founder/publisher of The Reader, will be honored with Omaha Press Club’s “Face on the Barroom Floor” tonight.

. 0 0 0 . 

The band Wednesday ended its North America tour last night at The Slowdown, and as you might expect, there was a mad-cap looseness to the performance.

Frontwoman Karly Hartzman was particularly chatty throughout the set (and said so), proudly declaring it was their first time headlining in Omaha (They opened for Beach Bunny at The Waiting Room back in May 2022). With guitarist MJ “Jake” Lenderman by her side providing beautiful harmony vocals along with his snarly lead guitar licks, Hartzman and Co. played all the hits off last year’s Rat Saw God album, including a wonky, intentionally sloppy version of indie hit “Quarry.”

That song’s zany performance was driven by an introduction where-in Hartzman said folks in Denver (where they played a couple nights earlier) had told her people in Omaha don’t know how to mosh. She egged-on the crowd to form a mosh pit and the resulting “hop-and-jump” pit bounced around for the rest of the set. That’s one way to get people in Omaha to “dance.” 

I wasn’t aware Wednesday loved punk and/or metal, but it became obvious when Hartzman provided some genuinely throaty metal screams, especially during the night’s encore, which sounded like something by Destruction Unit. 

The night felt like an all-star performance with Hartzman’s versatile vocals that ranged from a soft coo to that growly scream, but the other heavy hitters were Lenderman, who carried the lead vocals on a cover of Drive By Truckers’ “Women Without Whiskey” — a highlight — and lap-steel guitarist Xandy Chelmis, who can turn any song into a twangy country ballad. In fact, the set also swung between quiet alt-country-esque ballads and gritty shoegaze noise rockers. In the end, the softer stuff won the day (for me, anyway). 

Draag at The Slowdown, May 30, 2024.

Opener Draag showed extremes – between metal/industrial and seamless, ambient shoegaze. Frontman/guitarist Adrian Acosta is a vocal chameleon shifting between Dean Wareham/Galaxie 500 crooning and all-out metal screaming. Fellow vocalist Jessica Huang was the contrast with her cool, purring voice. 

Draag opened with the hard stuff and settled into the rich shoegaze halfway through their set, hitting their obvious sweet spot. I could see these folks opening for any of the major shoegaze bands as they continue to develop their own flavor of the genre. 

Wednesday has been selling out shows on this tour, but only managed to draw around 250 last night at the Slowdown, which made for a comfortable-sized audience for the big room (with the balcony closed). That said, it underscored indie’s weak appeal in the Omaha market and continues to explain why a lot of the heavy-hitting indie acts are bypassing our little town.

. 0 0 0 . 

Speaking of which, onto another rather sparse weekend for indie shows….

Breakers plays tonight at Pageturners Lounge.

Tonight at Pageturners, Breakers headlines. The trio of Chris Yambor, Robert Little and Matt Focht play a jazzy form of indie, sounding like a lounge version of Pavement or GBV. Very cool. Our old friend singer/songwriter Stephen Bartolomei opens at 8 p.m. No cover, but $10 suggested donation for the artist, please.

Then Saturday night Milwaukee noise-punk band Spoy headlines at Reverb Lounge. In the old days we’d call this math-rock – fuzzy guitar speed that sounds influenced by acts like Chavez and At the Drive In whereas they site US Maple and Black Midi as influences. Opening is Ivory Daze and Pagan Athletes. $12, 8 p.m.

And that’s all I got. If I missed your show, put it in the comments section. Have a great weekend. 

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2024 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


Live Review: Miwi La Lupa, Tom Bartolomei at Dario (Dundee) Days…

Category: Reviews — Tags: , , , — @ 12:53 pm August 27, 2018

MiWi La Lupa at Dundee Days at Dario’s, Aug. 25, 2018.

by Tim McMahan,

Dario Days — or Dundee Days at Dario’s, which is how it’s referred to now — was the usual good time. Dario’s set up a stage in the parking lot just west of Blue Line along with tables and benches and poured delicious beer while bands played.

MiWi La Lupa was on stage when we arrived at around 6 p.m. For whatever reason I’ve never caught his set despite the fact that he’s played around town numerous times. His is singer/songwriter style that compares to Simon/Garfunkel / Windham Folk / Harry Nilsson / Cat Stevens, upbeat and personal and in no way old sad bastard music.

I dug it, and for the rest of the weekend conducted additional research via Spotify, where I discovered his most recent album, Beginner’s Guide (2016, Tigershrimp Records), which I’ll file under “better late than never.” in terms of my discovery. Miwi has a great voice, which was showcased during this solo acoustic set that took place before Dundee Day’s main stage fired up.

Tom Bartolomei, left, accompanied by Stephen Bartolomei at Dario Days, Aug. 25, 2018.

Instead, Tom Bartolomei, joined with his cousin, Stephen Bartolomei, got the brunt of the “overblow” from Dundee’s main stage, at one time asking the Dario’s audience, “Is that Bon Jovi?” Yes, Tom, it is, but it also isn’t. Tom played a set of low-key, quiet singer/songwriter folk on his acoustic, with Steve adding some fine touches via his electric.

Many of you probably remember Stephen as one of the central players in Mal Madrigal (along with Ben Brodin, Ryan Fox, Dan McCarthy, John Kotchian and Mike Saklar). Steve moved to NYC years ago, lived in Queens, but now he’s back to Omaha for good (They all come back, don’t they?).

BTW, Stephen Bartolomei will be playing Wednesday night at Pageturners, opening for Sun-Less Trio’s record release show. More on that later.

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2018 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.


The return of Steve Bartolomei (Mal Madrigal); Saddle Creek Records news; Black Friday O’Leaver’s revealed…

Category: Blog — Tags: , , , — @ 2:07 pm November 12, 2013


by Tim McMahan,

You remember Steve Bartolomei, right? The guy behind Mal Madrigal?

Well, ol’ Steve’s got a new album coming out under the moniker Steve Bartolomei and his Comrades called All the Ghosts. Steve’s “comrades” on this collection are pretty much the same ones I remember from his Mal Madrigal days: Ben Brodin, Ryan Fox, Dan McCarthy, John Kotchian and Mike Saklar.

But get this: “We recorded and mixed the album at Chicago’s Electrical Audio with the mighty Steve Albini at the helm.” Whoa!

Bartolomei said the album was recorded in three days. “With the completion of each ‘tight rope take’ the six of us claimed a small victory, one song at a time,” he said in an email. “As such, All the Ghosts is a performance album with all the nuance, spontaneity, and spirit of a live show. Recording All the Ghosts was something special, and I hope you’ll hear it there in the grooves of this vinyl record.”

Yeah, vinyl record. In fact, he’s already taking pre-orders for the vinyl record (Who needs Kickstarter?). Those who pre-order will reserve a hand numbered LP with silk-screened jacket (Shipping ASAP in December), a download copy, plus bonus video downloads and access to demos, alternate versions and live recordings in the weeks leading up to the album’s official release.

You can pre-order your copy right here for $18. Or pick one up at the official album release show, Dec. 28 at The Slowdown, but who can wait that long?

Here’s a taste from the new album via Vimeo:

Faces Made Of Clay by Stephen Bartolomei with His Comrades from Stephen Bartolomei on Vimeo.

* * *

Saddle Creek Records issued its monthly newsletter today. The highlights:

— Bright Eyes’ A Christmas Album is now available in stores for the first time ever.

— The Rural Alberta Advantage as the three-piece enters the final stages of writing before hitting the studio to record their forthcoming third LP – due out in 2014.

— The new 7″ from Omaha’s own Twinsmith. Honestly, comes out next Tuesday.

In additional Saddle Creek news, Tim Kasher was the guest for the latest installment AV Club’ “hatesong” column, where he lambasts the song “Some Nights” by Fun.  Though after reading it I’m not entirely sure Kasher actually hates the song. I guess you can talk Tim into anything…

* * *

The Black Friday show at O’Leaver’s was revealed yesterday. It is, in fact, Talking Mountain, Video Ranger and M34n Str33t, Nov 29. Did you figure it out on your own?

* * *

Read Tim McMahan’s blog daily at — an online music magazine that includes feature interviews, reviews and news. The focus is on the national indie music scene with a special emphasis on the best original bands in the Omaha area. Copyright © 2013 Tim McMahan. All rights reserved.